Why we don’t use an Oral Appliance to Correct Tongue Thrust

treating tongue thrust

treating tongue thrustKnoxville and Maryville, TN

Not every dental practice uses the same methods to treat the same problem or at least they should not be doing this. In the case of tongue thrust, for example, your Maryville family dentist believes that using oral appliances to correct the behavior of tongue thrust is not the ideal approach.

First, let’s take a look at what tongue thrust is. It is a condition in which the tongue does not rest or move properly. In other words, the tongue pushes forward and out against the backsides of the front teeth when swallowing and sometimes speaking. You may not be able to tell by watching your child eat that he or she has tongue thrust, but usually, this condition results in the front teeth pointing outward or a gap between teeth.

Many oral appliances that are used to correct habits such as tongue thrust seek to block the tongue from performing the habit rather than correct the behavior, encourage the tongue into its correct position, or address the cause. Wearing an oral habit appliance also can be uncomfortable; these appliances have features that may include cribs, spikes, prongs, or other vertical components. Such habit appliances can cause a flawed eruption of teeth in the mouth, increasing the risk of malocclusion, otherwise known as a misaligned bite. Clinical research on patients who were prescribed habit appliances also indicates the frequent development of difficulties with eating and speaking.

In short, simply wearing an oral appliance will not eliminate tongue thrust. This is because tongue thrust is just one of many negative oral habits that can be caused by an orofacial myofunctional disorder. Also known as an OMD, an orofacial myofunctional disorder occurs when a negative habit or behavior develops because of poor oral resting posture. In addition to tongue thrust, other issues that can manifest due to an OMD include thumb sucking, chronic mouth breathing, and even serious conditions like sleep apnea.

Myofunctional therapy can be used to treat issues caused by an OMD by addressing the underlying issue – the resting posture of the tongue. Myofunctional therapy is a series of simple exercises that look to re-train the muscles of the mouth and face to restore ideal resting posture: with lips together, teeth together, and tongue resting gently against the roof of the mouth. Once the oral resting posture is addressed, any secondary conditions such as tongue thrust can be resolved.

It is important to note that a consultation with your family dentist in Maryville is the only true way to determine the best treatment for your child’s tongue thrust. At Crestview Dental Care, we will assess your child’s need for treatment and prescribe the best option for their specific case.

At Crestview Dental Care, we can use myofunctional therapy to treat a wide variety of issues, including tongue thrust. If a member of your family suffers from an OMD, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. If you would like to learn more about myofunctional therapy and its benefits, contact us by calling (865) 982-1700.

Crestview Dental Care is here to serve patients in the areas of Knoxville and Maryville in east Tennessee.